The recreational advocacy group LegaSea is bitterly disappointed the Minister of Fisheries has deferred making decisive cuts to commercial catches of tarakihi on New Zealand’s east coast for at least another year. In October Stuart Nash will apply a 20% cut to the commercial catch, while LegaSea has been campaigning for a 65% reduction.
LegaSea spokesperson Scott Macindoe says the decision is a blow for the fishery.(1) There are fears that commercial interests will succeed in keeping the stock low to maintain jobs in an unproductive fishery.
“It’s a body blow for one of New Zealand’s best loved fish. The fishery has been on the downward slide for 30 years. It is disappointing that Stuart Nash has decided on a 20% cut this year and only signalled further cuts in 2019, unless industry can deliver a “plan to rebuild the stock within 10 years.” It is the Minister’s job to rebuild depleted stocks.”
The decision highlights weaknesses in the Quota Management System and the ability of corporate commercial interests to influence decisions, buying themselves more time to generate their own science to better reflect their views.
LegaSea says a 65% cut is the minimum required to meet the Ministry’s own Harvest Strategy Guidelines. The latest stock assessment shows that the tarakihi fisheries on the east coast are in a steady decline and have been since 1990.
Currently, the stock is only 17% of the unfished level, below the “soft limit” so the Minister is obliged to implement a time-bound recovery plan.
From 1 October the allowances for recreational fishers will be reduced from 652 tonnes to 221 tonnes. This represents a 66% cut, which reflects the decline in recreational catch based on current harvest estimates in these depleted fisheries. Moreover, Fisheries New Zealand is consulting on daily bag limit reductions for recreational fishers which will reduce the public catch further.
As part of a combined recreational fishing submission to the Ministry in July, the joint parties highlighted the best available science shows that a 65% cut in commercial catch for ten years was required to reach the rebuild target with reasonable certainty.
“Given the depleted state of the tarakihi fishery the major cut needed to be made in 2018, to give a boost to the stock for the first time in 28 years. Instead, we’re looking at 20% or less, and that simply won’t be enough.”
“This is the first real test of the new Minister’s mettle for a nationwide favourite and unfortunately it would appear he has blinked. Too many New Zealand fisheries are collapsing. Tarakihi will join crayfish, hapuku and John dory on the “gone but not forgotten” list if we continue to ignore the clear signs of depletion. Unfortunately, it would seem the commercial imperative has overpowered the long-term sustainable future of our fisheries yet again.”
(1) The original statement has been corrected due to an error in the text. Amended on 26/09/18.
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TIMELINE OF EVENTS
Current review process
Minister Stuart Nash announces his decisions for the future management of tarakihi on the east coast of New Zealand.
Recreational group LegaSea complete a public awareness campaign, Time Out for Tarakihi, gathering public support for the Minister to cut commercial catches of tarakihi by around 65%. Over 9,100 petitions were collected in the 6-week campaign.
Joint recreational submission calling for a rapid rebuild of tarakihi on New Zealand’s east coast. Submission by New Zealand Sport Fishing Council, LegaSea and New Zealand Angling & Casting Association.
Fisheries New Zealand consult on a range of options for the future management of tarakihi on the east coast of New Zealand.
Earlier advocacy on tarakihi management
option4 support this submission on the review of tarakihi off the upper west and east coasts of the North Island. TAR 1. July 2007.
Submissions on tarakihi management off the upper west and east coasts of the North Island. TAR 1. 2002 – 2007.
Earlier review processes
Management review of tarakihi off the lower east coast of the North Island. TAR 2. 2004.
Management review of tarakihi off the east coast of the South Island. TAR 3. 2004.